Objective: The requirement for formal Continuing Medical Education (CME) is growing in Europe with a concomitant focus on quality and independence of medical educational programmes, together with a need for measurable effects on patient outcomes. However, during this rapid evolution, it has become clear that there are misunderstandings and confusion amongst CME providers in relation to standard and regulations. To address this challenging situation, the Good CME Practice Group undertook an initiative to establish a set of standard core principles with a view to adoption by European CME providers and other key organisations involved in provision of CME programmes.
Methods: The Good CME Practice Group developed four core principles relating to (a) appropriate education, (b) effective education, (c) fair balance and (d) transparency. In order to seek advice and input from peer groups and others involved in CME including accrediting bodies and medical societies, 93 representatives from these bodies were asked to complete a questionnaire and provide comments on the core principles. Participants for the consultation process were generated by a systematic search for European organisations with sections committed to medical education across all therapy areas and all key accrediting bodies. Following the consultation phases, the core principles were reviewed in light of responses and feedback and amended as appropriate.
Results: The response rate amongst invited participants was 42% and similar across all groups with the exception of European medical societies. However, despite this limitation, there were significant levels of endorsement of the principles by all stakeholders with 90-95% recommending adoption of principles relating to appropriate education, fair balance and transparency. The principle relating to the measure of effective education was also highly endorsed with 89% of respondents recommending uptake. In response, however, to some questions relating to feasibility of implementation, the principle was revised accordingly. Overall, the stakeholders have recommended uptake of all core principles.
Conclusions: The overall goal of the Good CME Practice Group is to guide how European CME providers contribute to improving public health outcomes by championing best practice in CME, maintaining and improving standards, mentoring and educating and working in collaboration with critical stakeholders. The significant endorsement of the four core principles has confirmed that this is a timely and well-received initiative that is aligned with the objectives of key organisations involved in provision of CME-accredited programmes. The Good CME Practice Group will continue to have dialogues with CME accreditation authorities, regulatory bodies and other key stakeholders in order to facilitate collaboration in improving standards across Europe.